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Koos Kombuis

I wish Brett Murray was a black man

2012-06-01 09:33
I wish Brett Murray was a black man.

Because, if Brett Murray was a black man, the 'debate' – if one can call it a debate – around The Spear painting would never have turned into the most ridiculous, most inglorious public brawl since the Joost-and-Amor breakup saga.

In the first place, had Brett Murray been a black man, political opportunists like Mantashe and Nzimande would not have been able to tag a work like The Spear as "racist".

There would have been no marches, no people holding aloft placards saying 'WHITES HATE BLACKS', no singing of Shoot the Boer in the streets of Johannesburg, and the Zuma camp would not have been able to score any brownie points in the succession battle.

If Brett Murray had been a black man, no one would have been able to pretend that this painting was an assault on black cultural traditions such as polygamy (not that polygamy is simply a black thing, of course, white people have had men like Hugh Hefner and stories like Sister Wives since time immemorial, but apparently no one thought of that yet).

If Brett Murray had been a black man, perhaps the critics of his work would have seen this painting in context, and they would have had to admit that through no stretch of imagination Murray's satirical oeuvre could ever be seen as an assault on traditional black values – unless these values included stuff like Chivas Regal and kickbacks.

If Brett Murray had been a black man, the very dangerous racist allegations made by prominent ANC members – I didn't consciously intend this lame pun, by the way – would not have been made, there would have been no mud-slinging, no vandalism, no marches, no reputations in tatters, no boycotting of newspapers, no hot air whatsoever. South Africa would not have teetered on the edge of an apparent racial divide for more than a week.

If Brett Murray had been a black man, we would have had more time to pay attention to other, more interesting issues.

Such as rhino poaching. Such as the fact that medical doctors in the Eastern Cape have not been paid for three months. Such as the threat of sewage water in small towns and acid water in Gold Reef City. Such as the fact that my niece had been in and out of a coma now for more than a month after being left for dead in a farm attack that did not even get reported in the press because at the time there were so many other farm killings, rapes, abduction of children, murders, etc, that it did not seem newsworthy enough.

If Brett Murray had been a black man, it would have been business as usual for South Africa. Which is bad enough, of course. But it would have been preferable to this farce.

Read more on:    brett murray  |  zuma painting

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